We are in a bit of denial that our dear colleague Tracy Pokarney is retiring on February 28 after nearly 20 years at the heart of KO, but we are also celebrating her joyful next chapter.
As part of her farewell, we asked our team to share their thoughts about Tracy. It’s a testament to her to see how consistently people spoke of her professional capabilities, warmth and kindness. Read below for our team’s final words and well wishes, starting with two touching tributes from our co-founders Craig Ostbo and Ken Koopman:
Planner, buyer, negotiator. Three fitting nouns you could use to describe Tracy’s job. But, those nouns do not come close to describing Tracy, herself. No, when I think of Tracy and my relationship with her over these past 20 years, the nouns that come to my mind are confidant, advisor, counselor, mentor, tutor, guru, genie, diplomat, mediator and, most importantly, Mother. You see, Tracy has been the “Mother” of our culture at KO for 20 years. She’s set the tone, the temper, the example that in all interactions with our clients, with our vendor partners and with ourselves, regardless of circumstance, respect is always the operative noun. And it’s for that reason that when I think of my relationship with Tracy the word “respect” transforms from a noun to a verb. I have such a deep and abiding respect for her, her actions and interactions, her character, her integrity, and her unbelievable 20 years of loyalty.
And it’s for those reasons and many more that I have a personal favorite noun that I use to describe Tracy … friend. I am going to miss her so much, because for 20 years I always knew I had a friend who had my back, regardless of the circumstance, there was someone in my corner, someone I could talk to, someone who by just walking in the door every day I knew things were going to be OK … Tracy’s here.
It’s a fact that “Mom” is leaving us to now take on a new noun, “Grandma!” As such she’ll no longer be walking in our door every day. But we can take heart in knowing that because of all she has taught us, she’ll always be right here … in our heart. – Craig
I guess this means we’ll never get to try and talk you into another thrill ride like the time we went white-water rafting on the Deschutes. But what a fun run it’s been – this year marks your 20th with the company! And you will be deeply missed.
In my eyes, you are the consummate Media Buyer: The clients appreciate you because they know you deliver great value. The media respects your strong planning and negotiating skills (and your delicate and determined use of the velvet hammer to get what you want for your clients). And everyone who’s ever worked at KO loves you for your kind and nurturing personality.
You have been such a calming presence over the years – rarely have I seen you upset or in a bad mood. The only times I’ve seen you sad is when someone leaves the company. You care so much for each person that I know it hurts when they go.
So, know that it will be a sad moment when I say goodbye to my PC pal (we’re not really dinosaurs, we just like our comfortable ways). But I’m also very excited for you and Bruce as you embark on your move and next adventure.
All the best from Karen and me! – Ken
Confidant. Advisor. Cheerleader. Collaborator. Ally. Teammate. Agency “Den” Mother. Smile Generator. Friend. There is so much about Tracy that will be missed. But good things happen to good people, and for Tracy, the best is yet to come. – Robert
I am so excited for Tracy as she moves on to the next stage of her life! She will be the best grandma ever, this little babe doesn’t know how lucky they are. But we do because we’ve been benefitting from her warm and wonderful friendship for a long time. Thank you for being you, Tracy! We’ll miss you. Xo – Kate
Tracy makes these killer oatmeal chocolate chip cookies that have just a pinch of sugar in each one. Tracy knows that I have a sweet tooth and often she would walk into my office with a big smile on her face and say “Joe Parker I was doing a little baking this weekend and I have a little surprise for you” and then hand me a baggie with some of the cookies in it. – Joe
I have loved working with Tracy for the past few years, especially as part of the Bob’s Red Mill team. She’s been integral to the success of our work with them. I will greatly miss her positive attitude and how she always makes sure there is a fresh pot of coffee for us. – Hayley
When I first started working with Tracy I remember thinking how glad I was that I immediately had a friend here at KO. Tracy has a way of talking to you like she’s known you for years even if she just met you that day. One thing that I love about Tracy is that she is always so grateful when she asks you for a favor or for help with a project; even the tiniest things would always receive a thank you and a smile. It’s going to be hard walking past her office and not seeing her in there working away, but I’m happy knowing that she will be able to enjoy time with her family and taking on her new role as grandmother. – Art
I have always appreciated Tracy’s unwavering positivity and good nature. She is a pleasure to work with and she will be missed! – Carrie
I wish Tracy the very best, most relaxing retirement! She has dedicated so many years to KO and has truly earned this next step in life. Congratulations on this milestone Tracy, I’ll be missing your warm energy each and every day! – Cassie
Tracy brings such warmth and joy to the office and will be missed dearly. However, I’m so happy she will have the experience of watching her grandchildren grow up. Some of my favorite memories from childhood are times spent with my grandparents, and I know Tracy’s grandchildren will feel the same. One day, when they’re old enough to understand, they will be so thankful she made the move to be close to them. – Dana
Seeing Tracy every morning on the way to the coffee carafe always brought a little ray of sunshine to my day–even on the darkest, rainiest Portland mornings. I will truly miss her warm, genuine, caring nature. – Emma
It’s been a real pleasure working with Tracy. When I started with KO in July, she made me feel really welcome. I am sad to see her go but am truly happy for her retiring to become a first time grandma. I wish her all the happiness and joy that becoming a grandma will bring. – Jennifer
What I will miss most about working with Tracy is her passion for the client accounts we have worked on together. She is always willing to go above and beyond for each client. I know they will miss her a lot too! – Kerrieann
Tracy has been a constant ray of sunshine in the office. Never too busy to chat or say hello, I could always count on her friendly smile and warm welcome every day. Best wishes to a wonderful person and friend. You will be missed! – Rachelle
Tracy congratulations for your promotion from KO’s Media Director to the position of grandmother. I hope you enjoy your new found job which pays in hugs, smiles and laughter! – Vicky
On the work front I have admired Tracy’s passion to go above and beyond to help clients get the most value from their media buys. And on the personal side, I’ll miss her genuine and warm interest in her colleagues and her willingness to pitch in whenever help was needed. I wish you a fulfilling retirement and many new dreams come true, Tracy! – Cindy
Tracy thank you for your time, feedback, and dedication over the past few months; it has been a pleasure to work with a colleague like you. Your charisma and consistent cheerfulness have always motivated and inspired me. I’m going to miss our coffee break discussions about Dark Roast and its ever-apparent superiority. Best wishes as you begin this new chapter in your life! – Christian